By Mike FlynnWith the evolution of CRMs, marketing automation, eDMs, direct texts, online assets and digital networks, a property communication strategy can be tailored to a customer’s purchasing journey, supporting their purchase triggers and helping counteract their purchase barriers. A great property communication strategy can be the competitive difference for sales and ongoing referral and loyalty sales.
The following are 8 tips to help plan, execute and monitor a successful property communication strategy.
Key elements to a communications strategy
A simple but effective property communications strategy should involve the following key elements:
• Business objectives
• Comprehensive CRM
• Identified buyer types
• Research and insights
• Buyer specific content
• Diverse communication channels
• Metrics to measure success.
Before starting any communications strategy, create objectives that are measurable, obtainable and sustainable. It’s also important to gain buy in from the project team, so they can support the strategy through their various roles.
Consider the following ideas when setting objectives:• Business goals and KPIs - Project engagement targets, enquiry targets
and sales targets
• ROI expectations - Cost per lead and cost per sale targets
• Quantity and timing of content
• Media budgets
• Metrics to measure branding and direct response communications.
As well as being a record of enquiries and purchases, a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) creates sales and marketing insights that can be used to tailor communications. Ensure the CRM captures details such as:
• Catchment areas
• Buyer profiles – I.e. First home buyer, investor, upgrader, downsizer,
• Demographic profiles – I.e. Family structure, and cultural background
• Purchase triggers and barriers
• Budget, residence and timing requirements
• How buyers search and receive information – I.e. Web, direct mail,
• Influencers affecting purchasing behaviour – I.e. Family and friends
• Lifestyle requirements – I.e. schooling, transport, shopping.
Personas are a creative representation of the project’s customers. It is a great way to visualise the customer type when mapping out their buying journey. Insights to create personas can be collated from the CRM, competitor research and feedback from sales and customer relation teams. For property, this might be a reflection of what a first homebuyer, upgrader or downsizer might represent for the project.
Bring the persona alive by creating a typical buyer profile:
• Current residence
• Household income
• Cultural background
• Socio demographic
• Family structure
• Likes and dislikes
• Hobbies and interests
• Channel selections
Facilitate a customer journey workshop with the project team to map out and understand the following:• Key stages of the customer’s interaction with the project
• The problems customers are solving and their timing
• The purchase triggers and barriers and what can be done to support
the triggers and counteract the barriers
• How buyers want to receive brand, retail, campaign and sales related
communications and timing
• Who buyer trusts to provide information- I.e. Marketing, sales or fellow
• Information needed to promote loyalty and referral sales
Test the workshop insights with research to look for any holes in the strategy and to find further opportunities.
Join competitor databases and social networks. Understand how they are building their brand, new enquiry and managing their database communications.
Look for weaknesses in their strategy and make them your opportunity. This will help your content standout and create value for your customer.
The workshop insights can be crossed referenced with search engine insights. Understand what key search words and terms customers are using.
The easiest way to do this is to create a Google Adwords account. Not only will you discover if your messaging is hitting the mark with your market, it can also give alternative ideas that may have higher search volumes.
Focus groups of past buyers or competing project buyers can also be valuable to test the workshop and research insights.
Understanding the customer journey and research insights will give focus to the content required for each stage of the buying process. In doing so, it will create an engaging communication between the project team and the customer and by doing so build trust.
Examples of content that can target different buyer types at different stages of
their buying journey could include:• Brand – Project and developer credentials
• Retail – Launch, stage releases and product offerings
• Promotion – Campaign and event promotions
• Sales process – Transaction stages
• Building – Construction and landscaping guidelines
• Competitors – Key differences and advantages
• Financial – Mortgage information and government legislation
• Industry – Local market and investing insights
• Lifestyle and community – Community and local area news and project
• After sales process and support
• Referral and loyalty benefitsCreate content specifically designed for the different communication channels, on-site assets (i.e. website), off-site assets (I.e. digital publishers and social networks) and traditional channels (I.e. direct marketing)Types of digital content that can be created include:• Web blogs
• Social media posts
• Info graphics
• Video - YouTube or Vimeo.
You could build a case, those catchment areas further in distance to the project, the less customers may know about the project. On the flip side, the
closer the distance, the more familiar they might be.
Digital campaigns can be targeted to specific catchments, which is an easy way to create both macro and micro campaigns. Digital campaigns could be
a mixture of:• Search engine marketing (SEM) - Google Adword campaigns
• Display advertisements and remarketing - Across targeted digital
• Social networks – I.e. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram
• Property search sites - Product retail listingsTraditional channels such as radio and press can also play a part in promoting the project brand, location and lifestyle to outlying catchments, while channels such as signage and direct mail can promote more retail messaging to catchments closer to the project.
Lastly, consider offering further content as a way of enticing further customer engagement and registration of interest.
Once qualified, customers can be assigned specific communication drip programs with a mixture of content topics listed above. The program can be provided through a more personalised approach through channels such as:• eDMs
• Direct text
• Social networks
• Direct mail
8. Measuring success
A successful property communication strategy will be measured on business objectives and actions taken by the customer. Having the right tools in place to track and measure is critical. Marketing automation plugins, Google Analytics and Console, or email marketing software is an easy way to monitor success. Also consider establishing a customer ranking and scoring metric to measure the suitability and readiness of a customer.
The success of the communication strategy can be measured in a number of ways. Examples could include:• How is the conversion rate from leads to sales comparing to the initial
objectives and past marketing initiatives?
• What is the ROI? How has cost per lead and sale changed with the strategy?
• Is the strategy improving the quantity and quality of the enquiry?
• How relevant and ready are customers?
• Are customers easily finding the content through the selected channels?
• Are they engaging with the content and how much of the content are they engaging with?
• Are customers engaging with multiple communication channels to answer their queries?
• How is analytics being used to monitor digital performance and what changes to the strategy are being made to optimise the content and channels?
• How has website traffic, search engine rankings and social shares
changed?A property communication strategy should not remain static, as personas, queries and needs will change or evolve over the project’s sales life. The marketer and project team must be ready and nimble and have the right tools to optimise the strategy in a timely way to adapt to the changing market conditions.
Mike Flynn is the Principal and Property Marketing Consultant for Matisse Communications. He has spent 18 years in marketing leadership, communications and consultancy within the property industry. Throughout a career from national developers to smaller private businesses, he has launched and marketed retail, land, housing, apartment and retirement living projects across Australia.